7 October 2014 Sun to fibers (S2F): massively scalable collection and transmission of concentrated solar light for efficient energy conversion and storage
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Concentrated solar energy has proven to be an efficient approach for both solar thermal energy applications and photovoltaics. Here, we propose a passive optical device, the Adiabatic Optical Coupler (AOC), that efficiently couples concentrated solar light from a primary solar concentrator into an optical fiber, enabling light collection and energy conversion/storage to be geographically separated, thus maximizing the overall system efficiency. The AOC offers secondary concentration of concentrated solar light through an adiabatic optical mode conversion process. Solar light, highly focused by this two stage concentrator, is delivered by optical fiber to either be subsequently converted to electricity or thermally stored. The ability to transport high energy light flux eliminates the need for high temperature working fluids in solar-thermal systems. In order to design the AOC and related peripherals, we used various modeling tools to cover different optical regimes at macroscopic and microscopic scales. We demonstrated a set of optical thin films with spatially varied refractive index up to 3 and negligible optical absorption by using proprietary sputtering technique to fabricate the AOC. We further studied the films using experimental measurements and theoretical analysis to optimize their optical properties. Preliminary cost analysis suggests that solar thermal power generation systems that employ our S2F concept could offer the cost and efficiency required to achieve the 2020 SunShot initiative levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) target. Success of this endeavor could change the energy conversion paradigm, and allow massively scalable concentrated solar energy utilization.
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Juan J. Díaz León, Juan J. Díaz León, Matthew P. Garrett, Matthew P. Garrett, Junce Zhang, Junce Zhang, Katherine Han, Katherine Han, R. Ernest Demaray, R. Ernest Demaray, Roger W. Anderson, Roger W. Anderson, Allan Lewandowski, Allan Lewandowski, William Bottenberg, William Bottenberg, Nobuhiko P. Kobayashi, Nobuhiko P. Kobayashi, "Sun to fibers (S2F): massively scalable collection and transmission of concentrated solar light for efficient energy conversion and storage", Proc. SPIE 9175, High and Low Concentrator Systems for Solar Energy Applications IX, 91750A (7 October 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2061527; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2061527

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